Mel Harris

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Mel Harris
Mel Harris 2016.png
Harris in 2016
Mary Ellen Harris

(1956-07-12) July 12, 1956 (age 64)
Years active1977–present
Spouse(s)David Silbergeld (197879)
Brian Kilcommons (198082)
David Hume Kennerly (198388)
Cotter Smith (198896)
Michael Toomey (200106)
Bob Brush (current)

Mary Ellen "Mel" Harris (born July 12, 1956) is an American actress best known for her role as Hope Murdoch Steadman in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething (19871991), for which she received a Golden Globe nomination in 1990.


Early life

Harris was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the daughter to Mary Michael "Mike", a high school science teacher, and Warren Harris, football coach at Bethlehem High School and Princeton University. [1] Harris grew up in North Brunswick, New Jersey [2] and graduated from New Brunswick High School in 1974. [3] Before finding success as an actress, Harris had appeared as a contestant on the game show Pyramid on two separate occasions: in 1979 on the ABC-TV daytime version known as The $20,000 Pyramid, and in 1985 on the syndicated version known as The $100,000 Pyramid, both versions hosted by Dick Clark. She later appeared as a celebrity on the third week of The $100,000 Pyramid hosted by John Davidson in 1991, with a clip of her big win in 1985 as shown in a flashback clip. [4]


Harris made her film debut playing a female leading role in the 1987 action film Wanted: Dead or Alive starring Rutger Hauer. She later went to star alongside Ken Olin, Patricia Wettig, Melanie Mayron, Timothy Busfield, Peter Horton and Polly Draper in the ABC drama series Thirtysomething playing the role of Hope Murdoch Steadman. The series received critical acclaim during its run, while Harris was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama in 1990. [5] She directed one episode during the final season. The series ended in 1991. During that time, she also starred in the horror film Cameron's Closet (1988) and action comedy K-9 alongside Jim Belushi. In 1989, she played a real-life victim Madge Oberholtzer in the TV miniseries Cross of Fire . In 1989, Harper's Bazaar named her one of "America's 10 Most Beautiful Women". [6]

In 1990s, Harris had many leading roles in the made-for-television films and miniseries, include The Burden of Proof (1992), Ultimate Betrayal (1994) and The Women of Spring Break (1995). She co-starred in the 1992 psychological horror-thriller film Raising Cain , and the following year played the leading role in the thriller film Suture . [7] Her other notable film credits include The Pagemaster (1994), Hangman's Curse (2003), and The Lodger (2009). From 1996 to 1998, she starred with Jere Burns in the NBC sitcom Something So Right . The series was canceled after two seasons.

Harris has appeared in a number of television series in 2000s, including Touched by an Angel , Stargate SG-1 , The West Wing , JAG , House and Criminal Minds . In 2007, she was regular cast member in the MyNetworkTV limited-run serial Saints & Sinners . At that time, she began working as writer. She was executive producer and creator of 2012 ABC drama pilot Scruples based on the 1978 novel by Judith Krantz. [8] [9] After six-year hiatus, in 2013 Harris returned to television appearing in the two episodes of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit . In 2016, Harris starred in the first season of Hulu drama series Shut Eye , and from 2017 to 2018 had a recurring role in the Bravo comedy series Imposters . In 2020, ABC ordered a sequel for Thirtysomething and Harris set to return alongside Olin, Busfield and Wettig. [10]

Personal life

Harris has been married six times. [11] Her marriages (in chronological order) include: David Silbergeld (197879), Brian Kilcommons (198082), photographer David Hume Kennerly (198388) (with whom she had son Byron in 1984), actor Cotter Smith (198896) (with whom she had daughter Madeline in April 1990), investment banker Michael Toomey (200106), and current husband screenwriter and producer Bob Brush. [12] [11]



1987 Wanted: Dead or Alive Terry
1988 Cameron's Closet Nora Haley
1989 K-9 Tracy
1992 Raising Cain Sarah
1993 Distant Cousins Katherine June Sullivan
1993 Suture Dr. Renee Descartes
1993Wind DancerSusan Allen
1994 The Pagemaster Claire Tyler
1999 Sonic Impact Co-Pilot Jennifer Blake
2001FiretrapCordelia Calloway
2003 Hangman's Curse Sarah Springfield
2004DynamiteFaye Baxter
2005 The Naked Brothers Band: The Movie Mel HarrisCameo appearance
2005 Purple Heart Dr. Harrison
2009 The Lodger Margaret
2009 Imagine That Maggie JohnsonUncredited
2020King of KnivesKathy


1977 Phyllis WeberEpisode: "Phyllis Runs the Office"
1986 Alfred Hitchcock Presents GirlfriendEpisode: "A Very Happy Ending"
1986 Heart of the City AnneEpisode: "Working Without a Net"
1986 The Wizard Jane WhittierEpisode: "Trouble in the Stars"
1987 Rags to Riches JessicaEpisode: "First Love"
1989 Cross of Fire Madge Oberholtzer'Television film
1989My Brother's WifeEleanor Goldberg-RusherTelevision film
1987-1991 Thirtysomething Hope Murdoch SteadmanSeries regular, 85 episodes
Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama (1990)
Nominated — Viewers for Quality Television Award for Best Actress in a Quality Drama Series (1990)
1992 The Burden of Proof Sonia KlonskyMiniseries
1992Grass RootsKate RuleTelevision film
1992 Child of Rage Jill TylerTelevision film
1993With Hostile IntentKathy ArnoldTelevision film
1993Desperate Journey: The Allison Wilcox StoryAllison WilcoxTelevision film
1994 Ultimate Betrayal Susan RodgersTelevision film
1994The Spider and the FlyDianna TaylorTelevision film
1994Broken LullabyJordan KirklandTelevision film
1995The Women of Spring BreakClaireTelevision film
1995 The Secretary Ellen BradfordTelevision film
1995Sharon's SecretLaurel O'ConnorTelevision film
1995Raising CainesJulie CaineSeries regular, 6 episodes
1996A Case for LifeLizTelevision film
1996 The Outer Limits Dr. Christina MarkhamEpisode: "Paradise"
1996What Kind of Mother Are You?Mrs. Laura HylerTelevision film
1997 Murder, She Wrote: South by Southwest SarahTelevision film
1996-1998 Something So Right Carly DavisSeries regular, 38 episodes
1999 Dawson's Creek Helen LindleyEpisode: "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner"
2000Out of TimeAnnie EpsonTelevision film
2000 Madigan Men Dr. Ivy CastelliEpisode: "Love and Dermatology"
2001 Touched by an Angel Kelly RockhillEpisode: "The Lord Moves in Mysterious Ways"
2001 The Retrievers Karen LowryTelevision film
2002 Strong Medicine Biddy HightowerEpisode: "Recovery Time"
2002Another Pretty FaceDiana DownsTelevision film
2004 North Shore Mrs. JensenEpisode: "Illusions"
2002-2005 Stargate SG-1 Oma Desala3 episodes
2005 The West Wing Ricky RaffertyEpisode: "Drought Conditions"
2005 Jake in Progress Tally HughesEpisode: "Ubusy?"
2005 JAG Dora CresswellEpisodes: "Straits of Malacca" and "Death at the Mosque"
2005Out of the WoodsBeth FlemingTelevision film
2006 E-Ring U.S.Ambassador to SpainEpisode: "The General"
2006 Cold Case Grace AndersonEpisode: "Superstar"
2006 House Barbara BardachEpisode: "Safe"
2006 CSI: NY Julie RollinsEpisode: "And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael"
2006 Criminal Minds Congressman SteyerEpisode: "Sex, Birth, Death"
2007 Close to Home Beth MurphyEpisode: "Maternal Instinct"
2007 Cane Constance HughesEpisode: "Open and Shut"
2007 Saints & Sinners Sylvia CapshawSeries regular, 61 episodes
2013-2014 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Eileen SwitzerEpisodes: "Rapist Anonymous" and "Amaro's One-Eighty"
2015 Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ShawnaEpisode: "My Mom, Greg's Mom and Josh's Sweet Dance Moves!"
2016 Shut Eye Nadine Davies9 episodes
2017-2018 Imposters Margaret Jonson5 episodes

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  1. "Mel Harris Biography (1957-)".
  2. Gold, Todd. "Yuppie Babies, Beaus and Tales of Woe on Thirtysomething Plunk a Responsive Chord for Mel Harris", People (magazine) , October 26, 1987. Accessed January 30, 2013. "She learned that the hard way. Born in Bethlehem, Pa., and raised in North Brunswick, N.J., Harris says that her parents' home was loveless long before their divorce in 1969."
  3. The Ultimate New Jersey High School Year Book.
  4. Brennan, Patricia (January 20, 1991). "HE'S GAME FOR THE NEW '$100,000 PYRAMID'" via
  5. "Mel Harris".
  6. "'Thirtysomething' Actress Mel Harris Files For Divorce | Access Online". Access.
  7. "Suture (1993)" via
  8. "'Scruples' adapted by ABC as possible drama".
  9. Andreeva, Nellie (January 31, 2012). "'Scruples' Adaptation From Tony Krantz & Natalie Portman Ordered To Pilot At ABC".
  10. Andreeva, Nellie (January 8, 2020). "'Thirtysomething': ABC Picks Up Sequel Series Pilot With Original Cast From Marshall Herskovitz & Ed Zwick".
  11. 1 2 "Thirtysomething's Mel Harris on Owning Her 6 Marriages: 'Clearly I Believe in It Because I've Kept Trying'".
  12. appearance on Oprah Where Are They Now